by HKTDC on May 16, 2017

Home-grown Innovation Shines

Home-grown Innovation Shines

From a cloud-based animated video creation platform to a disruptive F&B start-up; from a safe-driving Fintech breakthrough to a student-invented mental health diagnostic tool, the awards shone a spotlight on the type of ingenuity that is taking Hong Kong's information communications technology (ICT) expertise to the world stage.

Award of the Year winner, GoAnimate Hong Kong Ltd, was chosen as the "best of the best" from more than 1,100 entries. The company was also awarded the Best Business Solution Grand prize and Best Products and Services Gold prize.

Established in 2007 by Alvin Hung, a Hong Kong-born, Columbia University-educated computer scientist, GoAnimate is a truly home-grown Hong Kong ICT success story. In its first decade, the company has more than 8.5 million registered users worldwide, helping Fortune 500 companies, SMEs and individuals make more than 22 million videos.

Grand Award winners, Hong Kong ICT Awards 2017

1. Best Business Solution Grand Award: GoAnimate Hong Kong Ltd, for its cloud-based animated video creation platform

2. Best Digital Entertainment Grand Award: Animoca Brands Ltd, for Turbine Fighter, a local mobile game inspired by the real sport of remote-controlled robot combat

3. Best FinTech Grand Award: FWD Life Insurance Company (Bermuda) Ltd, for FWD Drivamatics, a driving technique assessment app used to record driving habits and rewards good driving behaviour

4. Best ICT Startup Grand Award: Everyware Ltd, for Caterlord, a product that has redefined restaurant POS (point of sale) systems adopted by 2,000+ F&B outlets in Hong Kong and overseas

5. Best Lifestyle Grand Award: FeedMe Ltd, for FeedMe Guru, an app-based F&B tasting menu marketplace

6. Best Mobile Apps Grand Award: Playnote Ltd, for Scalebook, a mobile app that helps music students around the world practise scales with the help of artificial intelligence (AI)

7. Best Smart Hong Kong Grand Award: Megasoft Ltd, for MyndVIZ, a smart home IoT cold-chain visibility platform and solution designed for temperature controlled products to enhance food and drug safety

8. Best Student Invention Grand Award: Hercules Chan and Harry Chan of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, for Void, a hypnosis service device, which provides users with a robust method to directly enhance mental health states

Design-centric Innovation

Billy Chung, Director of Business Development, said GoAnimate’s edge is its design-centric innovation. The platform is built with simplicity in mind, where a six-year-old can operate the platform, while allowing for professional-grade video quality.

“We have multiple templates to choose from, and characters who can speak [or lip- synch] in multiple languages,” he said. “Everything you could ask for in a heavy budget animation we can deliver, but in one simple-to-use platform and at an affordable price.”

Companies use the tool internally for staff learning and development, HR purposes and training, and externally for content marketing. This, said Mr Chung, is where GoAnimate provides an effective business solution.

“With our tool, companies can make professional-grade videos in 15 to 20 minutes, upload it onto social media via MP4 or animated GIF format, gain real-time feedback based on third-party analytics tools, and easily change it according to the response.”

On the surface, GoAnimate is an animation tool, but deep down it’s a productivity tool, Mr Chung added. “Video is a major trend both online and offline; and it is forecast to be dominant in the coming years. Our tool can help business professionals take full advantage of that.”

GoAnimate’s platform was developed in Hong Kong and the company now has about 70 employees worldwide, including 50 R&D staff in Hong Kong and a sales, marketing and service team in the United States.

F&B Disruptor

Food tech start-up FeedMe Ltd won Best Lifestyle Grand Award for its app-based tasting menu marketplace, FeedMe Guru. The company was founded in 2015 by Hong Kong-born, Harvard Business School graduates Kelvin Lam and Dominic Law, former finance and investment colleagues who shared an interest in good dining experience, but were frustrated by the lack of reliable online recommendations.

“Unlike other online verticals, like airline flights and ride-hailing, the F&B sector hadn’t been disrupted in years,” Mr Law explained, who said that sites such as Open Rice and Yelp were online directories that do not provide detailed information about the dishes served and, importantly, accurate pricing. “It is very hard to make a decision on these platforms when it comes to mid- to high-end dining,” he said.

The founders also partnered with mid- to high-end restaurants in Hong Kong to curate tasting experiences. FeedMe Guru menus are detailed and costed on the site so that “people know, if they order that menu, exactly what they are going to get, the portion size, and what they will pay,” said Mr Law. Its menus change monthly for variety, some including food and wine pairings. About 40 different restaurants are showcased on the platform each month.

As Asia’s food capital, Hong Kong made an ideal launch pad for the business, Mr Law said, but the founders are eyeing global expansion.

“We have always looked at being a global player in the F&B space,” Mr Law said. “Establishing a leadership position in Hong Kong will set us on course for global expansion.”

Safe Driving App

The Best FinTech Grand Award went to FWD Life Insurance Company (Bermuda) Ltd, for FWD Drivamatics, a driving technique assessment app used to record driving habits and rewards good driving behaviour. The app and accompanying MotorSmart Insurance was launched in October 2016 as a first for the Hong Kong insurance industry.

Developed locally, the FWD Drivamatics app can record each ride in detail and rate the safe-driving quality based on a comprehensive range of factors, including smooth acceleration, braking technique, turning technique, concentration (eg number of phone calls), and safe speed. Drivers who don’t make a claim receive cash rebates on their next insurance payment.

David Wong, CEO, Hong Kong & Macau, FWD Life Insurance Company (Bermuda) Ltd, said the innovation aims to bring in new elements to motor insurance and promote safe driving in a positive, relevant and long-term way. “Similar Fintech solutions can be found in other developed markets such as Europe,” he said.

“We wanted the project to be win-win, benefiting consumers and the community, as well as the healthy growth of the company,” Mr Wong said. “For instance, incentivising safe driving behaviours with more interesting and relevant offers helps reduce claims in positive and long-lasting ways. The product’s uniqueness and flexibility is also strengthened by creating more customised features and services.”

Since its launch, the FWD Drivamatics app has been downloaded more than 8,000 times.

Established in Asia in 2013, FWD is the insurance business arm of investment group, Pacific Century Group, with regional operations spanning Hong Kong and Macau, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and Japan, as well as a representative office in Shanghai to spearhead the group’s Chinese mainland expansion.

Innovation Hub

At the awards presentation, Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan noted that Hong Kong's future will be built on innovation and technology. “The ICT sector plays a pivotal role in powering the development of an Internet-driven, knowledge-based economy.”

He noted the government’s HK$18 billion injection into information and technology (I&T) programmes and initiatives last year, including the HK$500 million Technology Voucher Programme, launched in November 2016, to encourage SMEs to make wider use of technology and technological services. To date, some 1,100 companies have registered interest.

The coming months will see the rollout of the HK$500 million Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living, as well as the HK$2 billion Innovation and Technology Venture Fund, established to boost funding sources for technology start-ups in their critical growth phase, Mr Chan said. In this year's Budget Speech, a further HK$10 billion was earmarked to support Hong Kong’s I&T development.